North American Origins of Middlewestern Frontier Populations

John C. Hudson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Interpretations of American regional cultural geography have been based on inferred migration patterns of people who produced the first effective settlement of various regions. Empirically derived estimates of population origins can be constructed by combining locationally precise birthplace data from county histories with census data on state of birth. Such estimates for counties of the middlewestern states reveal the extent of latitudinal zonation in the westward migration process. Yankee and Midland culture hearths dominate most of the Middle West except for the upper Great Lakes and the southern fringe. A zone of Yankee-Midland mixture widens from a narrow strip east of Lake Michigan to a broad, discontinuous region stretching from Kansas to South Dakota. The problem of finding a northern limit for the Upland South in the Middle West is compounded by the inclusion of some Lowland South influence and by the mingling of migration streams that took place in Ohio and Indiana. Sharp boundaries (“cultural divides”) are largely absent except along the western and northern edges of Missouri and along the southern edges of lakes Erie and Michigan. The latitudinal zonation of migrant origins over most of the Middle West is too strong to fit a model of migration based on the assumption of directionally biased dispersion from separate sources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)395-413
Number of pages19
JournalAnnals of the Association of American Geographers
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1988


  • Middle West
  • culture regions
  • migration
  • settlement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


Dive into the research topics of 'North American Origins of Middlewestern Frontier Populations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this